The gardens were really quiet and I could see why she had brought me here. As far as I could see there was no camera around and because of all the trees and the rose bushes, I believed her we wouldn’t be watched here. We walked through many paths bordered by different flowers and edges and after arriving at a cobblestone path, we took them down to a small and peaceful fountain that felt as if it was the centre of the garden.
“It is kinda a blind spot here actually. I don’t think the Queen knows about it.” Hadley said to me. “There are no camera and no microphone that I know of. I have been here plenty.” She added as she sat on the edge of the fountain and signaling me to do the same.
“Why are you here if not to support Sophie-Anne?” I asked trying to skip the small talk. It wouldn’t be long before the sun would go down and I didn’t want to waste any more time with chitchatting.
Hadley stared at me for a few minutes, as if trying to find the right words. Her thoughts were all over the place. She thought about her time here and seemed to be satisfied by it. She thought about Jake and about some kind of mission they were on which intrigued me even more but then her thoughts turned darker. She was reminding herself how she had gotten here and the more she thought about it, the angrier she grew.
“She took me Sook’, I was weak and without a home and she preyed on that.”
“So you are a prisoner here?”
“Not exactly, after months of her trying to convince me to join her, I eventually obeyed and started seeing this place as something that wasn’t so bad after all. The Queen had also promised me that as soon as the vampires were out of the coffins, I could go out as I pleased and that she would never treat me like a prisoner.”
I looked at her with intrigued. I wasn’t sure exactly what she meant by the coming out of the coffin but I chuckled at the expression. She watched me carefully, her thoughts wondering what I knew but just like that, her thoughts shifted back to Sophie-Anne. It was as if she had reminded herself I could read her mind or something.
“They are planning a political move, coming out of the shadows you know? Telling the truth to everybody.” She nudged me but I needed clarification to make sure I had understood it directly.
“The vampires?” I exclaimed.
“Yeah, the other supernaturals are not super happy about it but vampires always had the upper hand in any negotiation, well that was after the Great War of course.”
I had read a bit about the Great War in the Cweller book. I didn’t know much about it other than the vampires fought hard against another race who just fucked off who knows where and left humans to their faith. The numbers of casualties had been really hard on the vampire race which explained why vampires took to the shadows instead of ruling over humans. There were simply not enough of them and they had needed to regroup.
“There is no way this will go well. I mean, how could it? They drink from us to survive.” I stated as a matter of fact. “Humans won’t be accepting, I mean that is not even talking about the centuries of lying and the actual war itself”
Hadley nodded and continued
“Well there is something new on the market apparently. It’s called True Blood; it’s synthetic and can feed them. So I guess they feel since they have a supposedly other source of food, we will welcome them in the light.”
“They can survive on it?”
She nodded as well as saying “yup” with a clear disdain drawn at the corner of her mouth. Even her nose retracted a bit as if she smelt something awful.
“I take it you don’t approve?”
“Not at all, you see, the Queen had managed to convince me she was good and would take care of me but this was until recently. She had brainwashed me like they often do with humans.”
The gentle rush of the water helped calm my over active nerves and I took a deep breath as she continued.
“Vampires are devious Sookie. There is nothing good left in them. Think about it, they have been living in the shadows for centuries, killing innocent people just to survive. They play mind games, they take advantage of everyone and when they are done with you, they disposed of you like you were nothing more than a rag. They call us pets for god sake!” she exclaimed shooting up to her feet and I jumped out of surprise. “They only take care of their own. We are nothing to them.” She said loudly.
“Sorry,” she continued while taking back her seat. “I have nothing but hatred for them. Jake helped me see the truth.”
“That’s kitchen guy?”
Somehow I started to think it wasn’t a coincidence I had met him before. He is the one who had given me the book after all. He had said something along the lines of needing me.
“Yeah, he is here to spy on Sophie-Anne. That is why I stayed Sook’”
“No!” she giggled and then stared at me with a very serious look to her. “He helped me see their true self; he showed me I was being used by her. Heck, how do you think the Queen knew about you and your telepathy? She didn’t send Compton out of nowhere.”
“You told her?”
“She forced me against my will!”
The anger quickly rose to my throat. She had been glamoured sure, but all this shit show I was in the middle of was partly her fault and even though I couldn’t blame her for being forced to say something, I still felt angry about it.
“They are evil creatures Sookie; you got to get away as soon as you can.”
A gasp left my lips without me being able to catch it on time. They were not all evil, Eric and Pam weren’t and I was sure they weren’t the only ones.
“You’re wrong” I said to her with a firm tone.
“No, I have been long enough with them to have seen what they are capable of. They are cruel, selfish and they use us. They have absolutely no remorse and no empathy; they are just not capable of it.”
“You could say that about some human beings too!” I exclaimed and immediately backed off when she brought her hand to her mouth in shock. She stared at me in disbelief.
“You are in love with him!” she exclaimed and I couldn’t help it but to look away, which was an admission of guilt in most situations. “Oh my god Sookie! You cannot be, he is using you! Can’t you see that? Northman is the most calculated and devious of all of them! He is the oldest.”
I sighed heavily grabbing my head between my hands. What was I to do? I was so confused and did not know what to believe. On one hand, what she was saying made sense. From some of the things I had seen, vampires were manipulative at best. Just the fact they could glamour people was terrifying on its own. I had yet to meet a straight forward vampire, I mean even Eric hid things from me. Wouldn’t it make sense he did because he was just like she described; calculated and extremely patient in his plots?
“They have no feelings other than for themselves Sookie. You don’t live centuries killing innocent people and keep your soul for it.” She argued and I tried to steady my breathing but it was hard to find air.
On the other hand, neither Eric nor Pam had done anything to hurt me in any way. On the contrary, Eric had saved my life. For what purpose would he use me? My telepathy? Did he know about it when we met? I couldn’t recall the order of events anymore and the harder I tried to think about it, the more the memories escaped my grasp.
“Jake will help you Sookie. It is not too late! You know the truth now, when he will come for you, just follow him. He will get you out. You have to before it’s too late.”
“Where would I go? “ I said in a defensive mode unable to process anything anymore.
“He will bring you to our headquarters.”
“When Jake explained everything, he also showed me that there is a group of us that knows what is going on and are trying to stop them from coming out of the coffins. Killing vampires would be a lot harder if they are public and considered citizens.”
“I am so confused.”
“I know,” she said to me while wrapping her arm around my waist. “After the Great War, humans were left to their demise but they were not alone per say. The fae left some of us with a bit of abilities. It is hard to explain but we can feel it when there is a vampire nearby, we get that uneasy feeling. We know all about the colder touch and their powers. Knowledge is power. Some of us have different abilities too. Anyways, we are kinda descendant of the fae and we are born to fight vampires and eradicate them, the abomination of nature. We are Cwellers.”
“Hunters? You are a hunter?”
“Yes Sook’ and so are you! You gotta join our ranks. The order needs you.”
A ruffle in the bushes made us both jump. As I held my breath to see who would come out, I felt a tear coming out of the corner of my eye. This was too much too fast. How could I be a descendant of those hunters, was that why I was telepathic? I had always thought I was alone.
“It is just me” Jake said coming out from the shadows with his hands in front of him.
I heard Hadley exhale at the same time as I did as we both stared in his direction.
“What have you told her?” Jake demanded.
“I told her about the Order but she is not convinced. She is in love with Northman.”
“Well that is a twist I was not expecting.” Jake affirmed.
“Hey, I am right here guys.” I said raising one hand to get their attention.
“He must have glamoured her in having feelings or something. He is really powerful.” He looked at me for a second before looking at Hadley again.
“Do you see him every day?” She continued. “He would have to feed you blood every day to make you fall in love with him like that. I mean a fling is different than this.” Hadley explained but I was already on my feet. Not only I was pissed off they thought I was some kind doll Eric was using but I was really angry with the fact I couldn’t tell them that was not it, I couldn’t be glamoured. Besides, Bill had been the one feeding me blood and that had not worked on me. All it had achieved was to give me some weird ass dreams.
“Sook’ I realize this is a lot to take in and I am sorry that everything he has been telling you or make you believe in is a lie but better now than in years from now when you wouldn’t be able to escape them anymore. The Order needs you, you are a hunter, help us take down Sophie-Anne and her kingdom. Let us stop these maniacs from coming out where it will be harder to hunt them without public knowledge.”
“Why would you not want everyone to know what you are up to, if it was such a just cause?” I said sarcastically.
“And create mass panic? No, there is a reason why we stated hidden for so long.”
“Right” is all I said before heading back to the castle. The sun was coming down which meant I would get news about Eric or at least was hoping to have some. I felt I should have felt more excited or anxious about it but something was wrong. I wasn’t as anxious as I should have been and I was willing to bet, it had something to do with the doubt they had planted in my mind about vampires and about Eric. What if what they were saying was true and he was just using me? Was I just a stupid naïve girl following him to my death?
I hated that I felt that way and I hated that I doubted but there was nothing I could do now other than finding out the truth. Perhaps I needed to go to the source directly but no matter what he would say, I knew that doubt would make me wonder if he was lying and fabricating lies just to make me believe again. I would always wonder.
As I reached the big edges close to the castle, I heard them catching up behind me.
“Sookie,” Jake said in a quick out of breath whisper, “What if I told you I knew where your Grandmother and your brother are?”
“What?” I said loudly and they both signal to be quieter. “What did you just say?” I whispered angrily. Why would he have not said that before?
“They are with us Sookie. With the Order of the Bones.”
“And why on earth would they join you without telling me?”
“They had no choice Sookie. Even us, talking to you right now, is very dangerous.” Hadley said to me closing the distance between us.
I frowned at the words, what was that supposed to mean?
“We need to know whether you will join us or not Sookie. Gran and Jason are with us, but the question is, are you? Are you so far up in the vampires’ organization that you cannot see your own family anymore? Are you too far gone for saving?” Hadley said insisting on the word family.
“Oh my gosh! Are you telling me they have disappeared on me because they feel they cannot reveal any of this because I am with the vampires?”
“Can you blame us, we need to be careful. You already know so much.” She said while I took a step back towards the castle. That is when I hit a big chest, Jake’s chest.
I couldn’t go anywhere even if I tried.
“Let me go” I demanded but they didn’t move.
“You would be a great addition to our ranks but we can’t afford having you running around knowing everything now. So what is it going to be?” Jake said and I took a deep breath.
“I want to see my Gran and Jason.” I stated so they would back off. Although they had planted doubt in my mind, I still wanted to see Eric and give him a chance to explain what was going on but at this point I would have to keep my mouth shut and let them believe they had turned me in some way.
I knew playing both sides was not a good idea but I had no choice.
“Well, you know, accident could happen if you tell vampires about us.” Jake said in a quiet voice. “I would hate to see your Gran injured because of stupidity”
And that right there, pretty much sealed my lips.
One of Sophie-Anne’s many servants came into the room and lit the fireplace in front of Hadley and I. We were in the library, surrounded by endless tall walls of books. I think so far, this had to be my favourite room. It was peaceful and quiet, warmth emanating from the decorations and the colour scheme. Thick reds and green with gold accent was the perfect colours to go with the smell of old books. We had decided to wait for the Queen by the fireplace. There were two armchairs in front of it and a large love seat on the side. It was really comfortable; too bad I was a bag of mixed emotions. I was angry at Hadley for threatening my family and planting doubt in my mind, I was anxious about Eric, overwhelmed by all the revelations and annoyed and frustrated with the whole; I am not a prisoner but really I am.
We probably sat in silence for at least an hour. The sun had set an hour ago yet no one had come. I had suggested just going to the Queen ourselves but I was told that was not a good idea. With every minute passing, I grew more impatient and it was driving me nuts.
“Do you still worry about him?” Hadley thought while she stared in my direction.
I looked away, the fire being suddenly interesting. I was angry with her and I was not interested in having a conversation with her about Eric and whether I cared about him or not. Just the mere thought what we had was a lie; a ploy to secure me as an asset was enough to make my stomach turn.
She sighed heavily and kept talking to me in her thoughts but I had no idea what she was saying because as soon as I understood she wouldn’t drop it, I put my shields up. I wiggled my feet free from under me feeling as if pins and needles were climbing up my leg; I had been sitting on it too long.
As soon as the door of the library sprung open, I looked in its direction with hopes that I was finally going to see him but like every time I was met with disappointment. This time, it was one of her consort that entered the room. He made his way to us and let Hadley know that the Queen was ready to receive us. She signalled me to follow her and him and I didn’t argue.
We entered the Queens chambers a few moments later and I looked around to see if he was there pissed off I could look everywhere fast enough. The room was so big; he could have been standing or sitting anywhere really. But as my eyes quickly swept the room, I grew desperate. I kept repeating to myself he was fine but the more I tried to convince myself the more I felt apart to the inevitable truth.
If he was okay, he would be here right now.
The Queen got up and I couldn’t hold my tears anymore. I felt one rolling down my cheek but I quickly caught it before it could go too far. I had to compose myself.
“Please, someone, this one is leaking.” I heard behind me, from the embrasure of the door and I gasped having recognised who the voice belong to.
“Pam!” I exclaimed as I turned around to see her leaning on the door frame.
I couldn’t help it; I just ran to her and hugged her as tight as I could. She was okay! She was alive and well, so much she smelled my single tear and made fun of me. I couldn’t wipe that stupid smile on my face and I was pretty sure I hugged her too long but I didn’t care. At first, she had been taken by surprise. She wasn’t hugging me back but eventually I felt a small hand on my back as she gently pet it with reserved affection.
“Pamela! Finally, you made it. I was just briefed about what transpired after we escaped. I am glad you are well.” Sophie-Anne said to Pam. I took it as my cue to back off from her.
As they made small talk, I couldn’t help but notice that Eric wasn’t with her. I watched them while wondering where he could be. Did he not want himself? If I was to be his “pet” would he not come himself? What if what Hadley had said was true, he had only been using me? It would mean he wouldn’t care whether I was to stay with the Queen or not.
I shivered at the thought and tried to shift my thoughts to something else but it wasn’t possible. Why would he not come here and get me?
“We do need to discuss in private regarding your maker.” Sophie-Anne said as she looked at Hadley, her consort and myself.
Hadley’s thoughts seemed to be focus on the fact that the Queen rarely demanding privacy and if I didn’t know Hadley better I would have thought she was upset about it, well that was until her thoughts shifted about Eric. She too found it strange he was not here and it did nothing to calm my nerves.
She nodded to the Queen and grabbed my arm but Pam immediately pushed her hand away as she stared at the Queen.
“Sookie can stay your majesty, “she stated.
The Queen argued back but Pam would have nothing of it. She kept repeating that with all due respect, she would insist on having me there. It was evident that Pam would not budge and I think the Queen saw that because she gave in after a few back and forth.
The consorts left with Hadley who was furious she would not hear the next part. She was praying that Eric was dead and my heart broke just at the thought. She had so much hatred for him when she didn’t even know him. My chest was hurting and my head was spinning. Someone needed to tell me what was going on before I pass out.